Saturday, January 05, 2008

Some Stan Rogers for Dawn Coyote.

Dawn replied to my New Year's shout-outs, noting that my post on lake ships made her think of the song "The Mary Ellen Carter", as performed by Stan Rogers.

Here's Stan again, singing "Make and Break Harbour," from his first album, Fogarty's Cove, with a montage of fishing scenes:

Finally, here's a CBC piece showing the icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier sailing in arctic waters, to the accompaniment of Stan's song, "Northwest Passage":

Friday, January 04, 2008

Cold day at Port Henry.

Taken from a window on Amtrak's Adirondack on December 22, this shot shows the Port Henry, New York railroad station, originally built by the Delaware & Hudson, now part of Canadian Pacific. Beyond the station is an Alco diesel locomotive, ore jenny and caboose of the Lake Champlain & Moriah, a short line that hauled iron ore from nearby mines to a dock at Port Henry where it was loaded on barges for transport to distant steel mills. (For a detailed description of the mining industry in the Moriah region in the late 19th century, see this 1873 article from the New York Times.) I've featured this loco and cars on the blog before, in photos taken during the summer.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Classic lake boats: a dying breed.

In a couple of earlier posts (here and here), I've written about, and posted photos of, the unique ships (called, I've now learned, "boats" by true Great Lakes sailors) built for bulk cargo (usually grain or ore) transport on the Great Lakes. Yesterday, thanks to Tom Turner of NYCMaritime, I received a link to this story by Jim Nichols, in the Grand Rapids Press, about the scrapping of Calumet (photo above, by Dick Lund, from Dick's Great Lakes Ship Photos & More), a particularly handsome classic laker (i.e. one with the wheelhouse and crew quarters at the bow). She was launched in 1929 as the Myron C. Taylor, of the U.S. Steel Corporation fleet, and traded under that name and ownership for most of her life, before being sold and assuming her present and final name a few years ago. With her passing, the fleet of classic lakers continues to diminish; soon, all will be gone except for a few that may be preserved as museum pieces.

I forwarded a copy of the Calumet article to Mark Crawford, who told me he had served some years ago as a crewman on lakers. He replied, sending me a photo of the William B. Schiller (see below), also of the U.S. Steel fleet, on which he had sailed.

Schiller was a particularly fine example of the classic laker type, long and lean, with trim lines and a tall stack, and sporting a bowspirt. According to the records of American Shipbuilding (a company later purchased by George Steinbrenner), she was delivered to her owners in 1910, and went to the breakers in 1978. Sixty eight years of service is remarkable for a ship, though Calumet managed seventy eight.

Of his days as a Lakes seaman, Mark wrote:
I started out working as a deckhand and after a few months was promoted to watchman, the easiest job imaginable -- my work consisted of measuring any water collecting in the empty ballast tanks when the boat was cargoless, providing relief for the wheelsman, making coffee for the pilot house crew, and swabbing the forecastle deck. The rest of the time I would spend reading. My watches were from 4PM to 8PM and 4AM to 8AM, so I got to see almost every daybreak and sunset. I read a massive number of books at the time.
Mark's decision to leave this contemplative life (though one not without danger: he was a Lakes crewman near the time of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald with all hands) meant that the Lakes' loss would be the art world's gain.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Free Fouad!

In Saudi Arabia, it seems, blogging about political prisoners can land you in jail. See the New York Times story here.

Update: As the linked "Free Fouad" site now shows, an NGO called the Committee to Protect Journalists has sent a strong letter to King Abdullah, in care of the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., referring to the Saudi government's expressed commitment to greater press freedom, and urging the immediate release of Fouad Al-Farhan.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's shout-outs.

It's time to look back and acknowledge, with thanks, the folks who have encouraged and supported this blog over the past year.

First, enormous thanks, hugs and kisses to Martha and Liz, my wife and daughter, respectively, for their patience with my time-consuming and too-often distracting hobby. (As I've noted in a previous post, David Carr, of the New York Times, had this observation about having a blog: "[T]hink of it as a large yellow Labrador: friendly, fun, not all that bright, but constantly demanding your attention." Liz would much rather I had a Lab.)

Next, kudos to Homer Fink of Brooklyn Heights Blog, and Dawn Coyote of WikiFray, which provide me with alternative fora in which to serve up my half-baked ideas, as well as very productive links to this blog. Dawn, thanks for picking up the ball and running with it when Ender put it on the ground. Homer, I promise to have a column for you, real soon.

Louise Crawford, unofficial Jewish mother of the Brooklyn blogosphere, has been a great supporter of S-AB, giving encouraging commentary and making productive links again and again and again. Special thanks for including a mention of S-AB in this year's Park Slope 100, even though I'm not a Sloper.

Rundeep gets a special mention for having posted one of the nicest things ever written about S-AB, and about yours truly.

Allan Tremmel is a high school and college friend I'd lost contact with until he discovered S-AB, and I heard from him for the first time in at least twenty years. Since then, we've corresponded by e-mail, mostly about my having ended up where he started out (Brooklyn), but also about our old common interest, astronomy. In addition, he's put me in touch with other high school friends. A happy, healthy and prosperous 2008 to you and yours, Al.

Old Fray friends Twiffer and Persephone have been faithful readers, and Twiff has posted frequent and incisive comments (but, face it, T., you'll never get me to like the DH rule). This year, though, they especially distinguished themselves by bringing Li'l Macduff to life.

Other Fray folk who have been S-AB supporters include august, Grant Miller Media, Keifus, John McG (who gets special thanks for giving me my first "Digg"), Archaeopteryx, Hipparchia (who gets special thanks for "tagging" me for the Pharyngula mutating genre meme), TenaciousK (who I am delighted to see has resurfaced and with whom I share my March 19 birthday), catnapping, The Dread Pundit Bluto, topazz (who, alas, appears to have ended her blog), and (though he'll no doubt deny it) Schadenfreude.

No discussion of Fray friends would be complete without mentioning the return of Moira Redmond. Moira, I promise I'll be back for at least an occasional Fray post in the near future.

Other Brooklyn bloggers rating special mention for their support are The Changeling of Bed-Stuy Blog, EJ of BK 11201, Brooklyn Beat of Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn, Xris of Flatbush Gardener, Bob Guskind of Gowanus Lounge, Rob Lenihan of Luna Park Gazette, Miss Heather of newyorkshitty, and Gary of runs brooklyn/brooklyn runs who, even though he's moved away and stopped adding to his excellent blog, still visits SA-B regularly from his new home in Iowa.

Other bloggers who have been supportive include Heights neighbor TS, who is one of two contributors to Instaputz; Brain Tracer, who believes in the psychic power of MP3 players (a topic on which I may post ere long); Joe Martini, of Give 'n' Go; Mother Jones, R.N., of Nurse Ratched's Place; N. Pepperell, of Rough Theory; rhea, of The Boomer Chronicles; El Cabrero, of The Goat Rope; whoever does Going Like Sixty; and, of course, the always faithful Sometimes Saintly Nick.

Resolutions? You want resolutions? I think Chaylene may have the right idea (though, as expected, El Cabrero has more considered thoughts on the matter).